Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What to Get Excited About: H Street

As you may know, after six years as a resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia, I have finally officially moved to our fair nation's capital.

But some could argue about my usage of the word "fair" in that last sentence, considering which part of the city I chose to move to: H Street Northeast, where my neighbor's car got broken into in our "secure" parking lot and where I'm pretty sure I heard the disturbing "pop! pop! pop!" of gunshots a few weeks ago. There's a healthy amount of litter on the streets, and for every swinging hot spot, there is also a boarded-up storefront.

But when I scan the horizon of the Atlas District, I don't see boarded-up storefronts; I see possibilities. The revitalization of H Street has only just begun, and there are so many places in the works right now that you probably ought to start house-hunting now so you can get in while one-bedroom apartments are still affordable.

I took a walk down H Street the other day and made note of the various spots under construction. What I found was a veritable cornucopia of bars, restaurants and lounges boasting world cuisine, garden seating, and even live music!

Stroll with me, if you will:

1421 H St. NE

This storefront nearing the very end of H Street has plans for a full-service restaurant with 171 seats on the first floor and 24 seats on the second. No word yet on what the restaurant's name will be.

1413 H St. NE

Apparently, D.C. Conscious & Cafe will soon be occupying this spot. The work permits in the window indicate that they've applied for a liquor license and will be serving a world-fusion menu and will play host to social gatherings, book readings and speakers from the community.

1387 H St. NE 

I can't wait for this place to have something, mostly because its corner location makes it ideal for snagging a sunny window seat. This place has permits that would indicate plans for a restaurant, but the name and type of restaurant are not listed.

1358 H St. NE

As the banner proudly proclaims, Impala Cantina Y Taqueria is on its way, set to feature new Mexican-style cuisine and alcoholic beverages with indoor seating for 150, a summer garden with 49 seats and a ROOFTOP with 49 seats. If there's one thing I love, it's rooftop seating, and right now H Street doesn't have a whole lot of that (the Queen Vic and Smith Commons both have back decks, but they're technically not rooftops).

The website I linked to says this place will open this month, but based on what the windows look like and the fact that it's been delayed several times before now, I'm not optimistic about that. But, it will be glorious when it does open.

1324 H St. NE

This storefront has applied to become Chicken Tortilla, a fast-casual, family-style dining establishment.

1251 H St. NE

Apparently Mexican-style restaurants are all the rage among would-be restaurateurs on H Street, as this place will one day be the home of Sol Mexican Grill, a new tavern serving Tex-Mex cuisine with a full bar. A deejay will play on Fridays and Saturdays, and there will be seating for 35 indoors and 10 seats in their summer garden.

1242 H St. NE

Boasting probably the dumbest name I've ever heard of in my life for an alcohol-slinging establishment, Da Luft Restaurant and Lounge will soon be occupying this space. Why oh why did they choose that name? It's awful. Let's hope the American cuisine and seafood they plan to serve won't be. Also, Da Luft plans to feature a deejay and a four-piece musical combo with a dance floor, which could be cool. There will be indoor seating for 80 and a summer garden with 30 seats.

1128 H St. NE

An Indian/Pakistani restaurant called "The Casbah" is supposed to come into this lovely space on the corner of H and 12th. This place will also feature a deejay and live music, with 44 indoor seats and a sidewalk cafe for 40.

1118 H St. NE

After backing away from a storefront on Barracks Row, IMA Pizza apparently has chosen this spot to serve their new gourmet pizza.

1110 H St. NE

This place hasn't chosen a name yet for their Asian cuisine food concept, but they plan on nights of deejays, live music and KARAOKE. HELL YES.

1007 H St. NE

Who needs a church when you can have jazz music a la Preservation Hall in New Orleans? H Street's jazz club HR-57 is apparently planning to move from their current spot down the street to this place, where they'll feature a short Southern menu and live jazz performances.

1001 H St. NE

No word yet on what will take up the old George's Place, but the people who own Ben's Chili Bowl bought it. Apparently, they were taking some time to do "market research" to see what the people of H Street really need.

If I may speak for all of us, it's another Ben's Chili Bowl location. Hop to it.

Editor's note: Elyse over at Capitol Bites blog has alerted me to the fact that this place will, in fact, become a Ben's Chili Bowl. UNRESTRAINED JOY!

709 H St. NE

Picture this place as a satellite bayou: Po Boys Kitchen has applied for permits for a restaurant with po boys subs, light dinners and other gourmet foods. They'll have live jazz/reggae bands as well as a summer garden.

Side note: I'm loving all these places with outdoor seating! Woohoo!

707 H St. NE

This is another one with a dumb name: Xclusive Restaurant & Lounge. If there's anywhere I'm not going ever, it's a place called Xclusive, intentional misspelling. Yikes.

Editorializing aside, permits would indicate they'll have new upscale international cuisine with American Caribbean and African dishes, as well as more jazz/reggae bands. An outdoor garden, too.

644 H St. NE

The scrolling electric sign here tells me this place will open soon, which has me majorly psyched. Hikari Sushi & Sake Bar will be a Japanese restaurant with "family-oriented dining" (whatever that means), with indoor seating for 55 and outdoor seating for 16.

523 H St. NE

Another one with indeterminate restaurant permits. Cool corner location, though, so hopefully it'll be something good.

502 H St. NE

Wash off the graffiti and roll up the security grate and you've got Le Grenier, a modern French restaurant with 60 seats and a sidewalk cafe for four. Word on the street is that this place is being held up by lack of funding, though, so don't start picturing delicious baguettes and coq au vin just yet.

407 and 405 H St. NE

Both of these places have applied for retail licenses. Sweet! I'm hoping for a boutique clothing store like Gossip in Crystal City. I love that place.

And there you have it! SO much to get excited about. And there are plenty more open storefronts to be snatched up, and with the advent of the streetcar, which is slated to begin service in the summer of 2013, you can bet even MORE stuff will be gracing this fair street soon enough.

I can't wait!


  1. Ben's is officially going in on H St - it's no longer a rumor. WAHOO!

  2. Fuck yeah! Thanks for the heads up!

  3. The pizza place is called H& Pizza and they expect to be open within a month or so. Can't wait!

    I love our neighborhood :)

  4. There's also rooftop decks at: Rock N Roll Hotel, Biergartenhaus.

    Decks/patios at: Argonaut, Sticky Rice, Red Palace, Biergartenhaus.

    There's a good number of places to drink outdoors on H St. (Probably a few more than I listed, too, as those are just ones that I had been to.)

  5. Thank you! It really is a wonderful place to be. So much to be excited about!

  6. What H Street really needs is a dry cleaner (or two). I notice that one will be opening between 3rd & 4th NE. All these restaurants just increase the rat population.

  7. Re: Dry cleaners: They've got a couple, Madison Cleaners being one of them.

    Honestly, I'd love to see a high-end salon open up because there's no place to get a decent manicure/bikini wax. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

  8. Btw, not really restaurant-related, but Hunted House just opened up next to Metro Mutts. The place moved from 14th Street and has a fantastic selection of vintage homewares (is that right word?).

  9. I lived at 3rd and H St NE from 2007-2008 before moving to Northern VA. You are reeeeeealllyyy making me regret leaving that area! I bought a living social deal for Sticky Rice the other day, so I'm definitely going to venture over there soon to check out all the changes!

  10. This list, while awesome, neglects to include existing H St. gems that are revamping given the area's new trendiness, like @DCRosesDream.